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Committee backs two-dose pneumococcal vaccination

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended a two-dose schedule for infant pneumoccal vaccination, bringing its introduction an important step closer.

The Department of Health has held back on the use of pneumococcal vaccines in children, because the most appropriate vaccine and dosage was unclear.

But after reviewing data from UK phase II trials of a 9-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, JCVI members concluded only two doses were needed for good immune responses, with a booster dose given at 12 months of age.

MMR-fuelled parental concerns over multiple vaccinations could still make it difficult to squeeze the injections in. A Northern Ireland study found delays in immunisations when children received three injections in one visit.

The JCVI suggested a two-dose pneumococcal and men-ingitis C programme could be inserted sequentially to the current schedule to reduce the number of injections given at any one time.

Dr George Kassianos, RCGP immunisation spokesperson and a GP in Bracknell, Berkshire, said the benefits of introducing a pneumococcal vaccine would be enormous.

'Parents are always very worried at the point of vaccination regardless of how many injections are being given,' he said, adding a good educational programme will be needed.

•GPs have condemned a Conservative election pledge to offer patients single vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella as an alternative to MMR.

GPC chair Dr John Chisholm said: 'While the efficacy of MMR is well established, there are doubts about the single vaccines.'

By Emma Wilkinson

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